The Students’ Union has backed a campaign to scrap letting agency fees, amidst concerns about the spiralling costs of accommodation.
Last week the Union posted a message on its website announcing that NUS Wales President Beth Button is working to legally scrap letting agency fees. This involves amending upcoming housing legislation in the hope that it will be accepted in the Welsh Assembly Government.
To support Button, the Students’ Union is conducting research into accommodation issues faced by its students. This involves asking students about agencies fees they have been forced to pay in the past and whether they have had resorted to borrowing money in order to cover such costs.
Welsh Assembly members are also getting involved in the movement, and have agreed to visit student houses to assess concerns about poor standards and problems with mould and vermin infestations.
The AM members will visit Cathays and Roath on November 2nd. The Students’ Union are now asking for students experiencing housing issues to volunteer their accommodation for inspection.
If interested, email either Students’ Union VP Welfare at WPWelfare@cardiff.ac.uk or Beth Button at Beth.firstname.lastname@example.org.
The announcement follows after both Cardiff students and members of the community marched in solidarity the week previously to fight against agency fees. During the protest, speakers also drew attention to the rising cost of rent after it was revealed that rent in Cardiff has increased by 25 per cent in the last four years.
Cardiff University students have also spoken out against the high agency fees demanded by companies, before initial deposits are even agreed.
Third year ENCAP student Sarah Hazelwood said: “I think that considering you already have to put a deposit down on one month’s rent and letting agencies fees, it is a large amount of money for someone on a limited income for almost no customer service in return.”
A third-year Journalism student also explained to Gair Rhydd that her and eight fellow flatmates were made to pay £80 each in order to take their accommodation off the market, equating to a sum of £720 from one house alone.
However, she also stated that agency fees in other areas of the UK are substantially higher, as her cousin was made to pay £310 in agency fees in Bournemouth.
Other inquiries have found that agency fees generally range between £80 and £100, and are paid only a short time before a month’s rent is then needed for deposit.
According to the Guardian, ‘administration’ costs for students can average up to £400 including fees for photocopying contracts and creating inventories.